OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6 feels like the most polished, premium smartphone the firm has made in its short existence.

It boasts an all-glass design, bringing it in line with big-name flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X, a large 6.28-inch display complete with the on-trend notch, dual rear-facing cameras, both fingerprint and face unlock, and up to 256GB of storage.

There are several core improvements over the OnePlus 5T (and OnePlus 5) that it replaces, and while it may not break any new ground in terms of features, the OnePlus 6 has an attractive package that keeps it relevant in 2018. 

OnePlus 6 release date and availability

  • OnePlus 6 release date: May 22
  • Coming to North America, UK, Europe and India first

The OnePlus 6 release date is set for May 22 in North America, Europe and India, with the handset arriving in a host of other countries (including China, Hong Kong, Sweden, Finland and Denmark) soon after.

For those who just can’t wait until then, or who want to be one of the very first to get their hands on the new OnePlus 6, a limited number of handsets will be available to buy at a series of pop-up events around the world on May 21.

In the UK the OnePlus 6 will be available exclusively on contract from O2, and SIM-free from OnePlus’ own website.

Watch our OnePlus 6 hands on video below

OnePlus 6 price

  • Cheapest OnePlus 6 has 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage
  • Most expensive OnePlus 6 has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage

The OnePlus 6 price starts at $529 (£469) for the 64GB/6GB configuration, which is more expensive that the OnePlus 5T, which started at $499 (£449) for the same RAM and storage.

Then you have the 8GB/128GB variant with a price of $579 (£519), which again is a $20 (£20) increase over the 5T.

Finally, there's the top end 8GB/256GB model which officially takes the title of the most expensive OnePlus smartphone ever. This OnePlus 6 price for this configuration is $629 (£569). 

That's still cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy S9, iPhone 8 and Sony Xperia XZ2, but if you're looking for something more affordable you may want to check out the Honor 10.

Design

  • Premium, all-glass design using Gorilla Glass 5
  • Alert slider has switched sides
  • Improved water resistance and headphone jack retained

The first thing you notice when you pick up the OnePlus 6 is that it feels different to previous flagships from the firm, as it boasts a glass front and back rather than the all-metal unibody that’s been in place since the OnePlus 3.

It’s Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, with the toughened protection hopefully meaning it won’t easily smash – but there’s no getting away from the fact that metal doesn’t smash. For those who are more accident-prone the good news is that OnePlus provides a transparent silicon cover in the box if you feel the handset needs a little extra protection and grip.

This isn’t the first time OnePlus has utilized a glass body on a device, with the OnePlus X also having the premium finish, but this is the firm’s first ‘flagship’ handset to get the treatment.

OnePlus claims that it’s improved the water resistance on the OnePlus 6 over its predecessors, but the phone doesn’t carry an IP rating to guarantee its survival when fully submerged in water.

OnePlus 6 hands on gallery

Rather, OnePlus says its provided everyday, real-world protection for more likely scenarios, such as being caught in a rain shower or accidently dropping your phone into water and quickly pulling it out. Submerge this phone at your own risk.

At 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75mm the OnePlus 6 is pretty much the same size as the 5T; it’s a touch thicker and wider, but not quite as tall, which is impressive considering the increase in screen size here.

At 177g it’s also heavier than the 5T, which tipped the scales at 163g. Holding the two phones in either hand the OnePlus 6 does feel slightly weightier, but there’s not much in it.

The power/lock key sits on the right of the handset, and above you’ll find OnePlus’ popular alert slider, allowing you to easily switch between silent, vibrate and loud modes. 

This has traditionally been on the left of the handset, but OnePlus has decided to switch it with the SIM tray on the 6 after feedback from its community about the slider being difficult to access when using flip-style covers.

The SIM tray has space for two nanoSIMs, and both slots allow for a 4G connection, which means you can benefit from maximum data speeds on two seperate networks.

On the rear you’ll find the fingerprint scanner below the protruding dual-camera stack; however you’ll notice that this has been reduced in size.

Rather than a circle, OnePlus has opted for a smaller, oval-shaped scanner here. We’re told there are a few reasons for this, but the one OnePlus was willing to tell us was that someone on the team remarked that having a circle below the camera bump looked like an exclamation mark.

OnePlus maintains that its fingerprint scanner can unlock the 6 in 0.2 seconds, but it’s not the only biometric tech in play here. The OnePlus 6 also comes with face unlock, and during our brief time with the handset it appears to be quick, but maybe just a little slower than the fingerprint option.

There’s good news on the base of the handset too, as OnePlus has kept the headphone jack, allowing you to plug in your 3.5mm accessories without the need for an adapter. 

There’s also a single down-firing speaker, which is a little disappointing as it can be easily covered by your hand when held in landscape, and you don’t get the stereo benefit of a two-speaker setup.

Something else that’s new for the OnePlus 6 is the choice of colors, with three options available from launch. That’s a break from tradition, as in the past OnePlus has launched with just a single color and introduced additional hues later, however, which colors are on offer will depend on which RAM/storage configuration you go for.

It’s still possible that we could see more colors arrive for the OnePlus 6 in the future, but from the outset it’ll be available in Mirror Black and Midnight Black, with the limited-edition Silk White arriving shortly after.

The Mirror Black model, which is the color we’ve been hands-on with here, boasts a highly-polished, highly-reflective glass rear which is real fingerprint-magnet, and it’s the only color the entry-level 6GB of RAM/64GB of storage option is available in. 

The Midnight Black OnePlus 6 has a more matte finish, thanks to the layer below the glass being perforated with thousands of holes to create a deep sheen. This is the only color option for the top-end 8GB/256GB configuration.

The 8GB/128GB version of the phone is available in both black finishes, and also in the third color option, Silk White. This has yet another different finish to the Gorilla Glass 5 on the rear thanks to a layer of ‘powdered pearl’ beneath, giving it a more ceramic look and feel.

Display

  • OnePlus' biggest-ever display at 6.28 inches
  • Full HD, Full Optic AMOLED panel with 19:9 aspect ratio
  • 84% screen-to-body ratio thanks in part to notch

The OnePlus 6 display is one of the big new features on the phone. In fact, it’s the biggest display the firm has ever squeezed into a phone, with the 6.28-inch Full Optic AMOLED panel eclipsing the 6.1-inch offering found on the 5T.

OnePlus has continued to support the now-popular 19:9 aspect ratio too, giving you a taller display that offers up more on screen when you’re scrolling lists such as your Twitter feed.

While the display may be bigger, the resolution stays the same at ‘just’ Full HD. That’s 2280 x 1080 to be exact, which ensures it keeps the 402 pixels-per-inch density of previous OnePlus flagships.

However, in a world where QHD is fast becoming the norm at the top end of the mobile market, the screen resolution on the OnePlus 6 is a key area where the firm has looked to cut a corner in an attempt to keep costs down.

With the reduction in bezel above and below the screen the OnePlus 6 also boasts a 84% screen-to-body ratio that will likely please fans of outright display real estate. However this has come at a price: the inclusion of a divisive ‘notch’ at the top of the screen.

It’s smaller than the notch on the iPhone X, but larger than the camera-sized cut-out of the Essential Phone, lining up pretty closely with the implementation on the Huawei P20.

OnePlus tells us that the notch wasn’t simply added as a ‘me too’ feature though. A spokesperson for the firm told TechRadar “[OnePlus] fully appreciates the trend for reducing bezels and increasing screen-to-body ratio. [We] thought long and hard over the decision [to include the notch]. 

“We want to deliver the technology that currently works the best and we have to be sure of the technology we put into our devices, as we only make one [device] at a time.

“[The notch] works the best at the moment. Ultimately it’s not about the notch, it’s about the screen.”

Whether you’re for or against the notch it serves a useful purpose on the OnePlus 6, housing the front-facing camera, earpiece, LED notification light and ambient light sensor.

For those who really don’t like the notch trend, you can effectively ‘hide’ it on the OnePlus 6 by turning the screen either side of it black to create one continuous bar, although the feature enabling you to do so will arrive via a software update after launch.

The choice is yours then, but there is something rather satisfying about seeing your wallpaper wrap around either the side of the notch. Or maybe that’s just us.

Slide the OnePlus 6 out of its packaging and you’ll see that it comes with a factory-fitted screen protector, which is always nice, although it does detract slightly from the overall look of the phone, as well as being a bit of a dust- and fingerprint-magnet.

It’s easy enough to remove, and doing so instantly makes the OnePlus 6 look more premium, but you’re then exposing the display to potential scratches and scuffs, so don’t hastily whip it off as soon as you get it out the box.

Camera

  • Dual rear cameras, both with OIS for improved low-light shots
  • 16MP front camera will get portrait mode post-launch
  • Slow-motion video recording at 480fps

At first glance the OnePlus 6 rear cameras don’t look all that different to those found on the back of the OnePlus 5T, with the 16MP and 20MP shooters still Sony sensors with f/1.7 apertures, but it’s not all identical.

OnePlus has increased the size of the sensor on the main 16MP camera by 19%, and it now has a 1.22um pixel size (up from 1.12um), enabling it to pull in more light and thus perform better in low-light conditions. 

That’s not all though, as the OnePlus 6 features OIS (optical image stabilization) in both rear sensors, further improving low-light shots, and reducing camera shake and the consequent blurring.

Neither the OnePlus 5 nor the 5T featured OIS on their rear cameras, due to their location in the top corner of the phone not allowing enough space, but on the OnePlus 6 the cameras have been shifted to the middle – the thickest part of the handset – so there is room here.

The front-facing camera also gets a boost, with 16MP sensor capable of shooting portrait mode pictures (again this will be enabled via a software update post-launch). 

Rather than using the depth-sensing technology, as is the case with the rear cameras, the front-facing portrait mode on the OnePlus 6 will work out what to blur with software. This means you’ll still get the best portrait shots from the rear setup as the two cameras can gather more accurate depth data.

A feature new to OnePlus phones that’s introduced with the OnePlus 6 is slow-motion video recording, with the phone able to capture footage up to 480fps. 

That’s not quite the super slow-mo we’ve seen from the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Sony Xperia XZ2, but it’s a welcome addition to a handset that’s comfortably cheaper than either of those rivals.

Video recorded at 480fps is captured at 720p, but you can swap to 240fps at 1080p for a higher-resolution result, although your slow-mo footage won’t be as slow. What’s unique to the OnePlus 6 though is its ability to capture a full minute of slow-motion footage, which equals around six minutes of video when played back.

Once shot, you can select how much of your video is slowed down – it doesn’t need to be the full minute – allowing you to include full-speed video before and after the slowed-down section to really showcase the effect.

We’ve not had time to put the cameras properly through their paces yet, so keep an eye out for our full OnePlus 6 review to find out how they fare.

Power and interface

  • Flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM
  • Android 8.1 with Oxygen OS (and Android P Beta compatible)

The tagline for the OnePlus 6 is ‘The speed you need’, and to achieve such speed it uses a Snapdragon 845 chipset to keep everything running smoothly.

OnePlus says it’s worked hard to ensure there’s no slowdown or lag, optimizing the CPU and Adreno 630 GPU by up to 30%, while they draw up to 30% less power compared to the 5T.

This work will, OnePlus promises, enable the OnePlus 6 to work just as well in a year’s time as when you take it out the box – so we’ll get back to you on that a year from now.

Another way OnePlus is keeping the 6 slick is by not including an expandable storage option. This is nothing new, as there’s never been a OnePlus handset with microSD card support, with the firm maintaining that it would slow the phone down.

For most users the 128GB middle storage option will be more than enough, while for power users there’s now a 256GB option if more space is needed. 

However, there will always be some who’ll be disappointed that the OnePlus 6 doesn’t quite offer the freedom and flexibility they’d like.

On-screen you’ll find Android 8.1 – the latest software from Google – with OnePlus’ own Oxygen OS running over the top of it. On the surface, Oxygen is very similar to stock Android, offering a familiar experience.

However, head into the settings menu and you’ll find a range of additional customization options, allowing you to fine-tune the handset to your specific requirements.

The OnePlus 6 inherits the gesture-control navigation which debuted on the OnePlus 5 and 5T, removing the need for a visible navigation bar and instead relying on swiping gestures from the base of the screen to move around. 

It’s similar to Apple’s gesture control on the iPhone X – the gestures are slightly different on the OnePlus 6 – and it allows even more screen space for apps. This feature isn’t enabled by default though, so you’ll need to turn it on in the settings.

OnePlus has revamped its Gaming Mode for the OnePlus 6 (previously called Gaming DnD), which stops notifications getting in the way of your gameplay and optimizes performance to reduce latency. 

You can also choose to lock the screen brightness and reduce the network activity of other apps to ensure optimal playing conditions at all times, while a dedicated battery-saver mode will keep you gaming for longer on titles that use the Unity Engine.

There’s good news for those of you who want the latest software on their smartphone, as the OnePlus 6 is compatible with the Android P Beta, allowing you to trial the new software before it’s officially launched by Google later this year.

Be warned though – the Android P Beta is not final software, and will therefore contain a number of bugs which could seriously affect the performance of the OnePlus 6, so install it at your own risk.

Battery

  • 3,300mAh battery should last a day
  • Dash Charge gives you 60% in 30 minutes

The OnePlus 6 comes with a 3,300mAh battery, which is the same size as the power packs found in the 5 and 5T.

With a larger screen here there’s more for the battery to power, but OnePlus says it’s made it 10% more efficient than its predecessor, which suggests that you should be able to expect the OnePlus 6 to deliver similar battery life to the phones it’s replacing.

In real-world usage we expect that to be around a day on a single charge, with a nightly charge required to ensure you get through the next day.

While the OnePlus 6 does have a glass body, it doesn’t support wireless charging – one of the advantages of glass bodies is that they enable wireless charging (too much metal interferes with electrical fields), and while it wasn’t even a possibility with the metal unibodies of previous OnePlus handsets it’s a shame not to see it implemented here.

Like the screen resolution, the reason for cableless charging tech’s absence is likely to be in the interests of keeping costs down. What you do get with the OnePlus 6 is Dash Charge, the firm’s own fast-charging technology.

You get a Dash Charge plug in the box, and it can replenish the OnePlus 6 from 0% to 60% in 30 minutes. OnePlus says it gives you ‘a day’s power in half an hour’, although based on our experience with the OnePlus 5 and 5T we’ve found average daily usage generally needs closer to 80%. 

Still, it’s pretty quick, and something we’ll put to the test during our in-depth review process.

Early verdict

The OnePlus 6 feels like the brand's most well-rounded and grown-up phone to date, and placed alongside the likes of the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9, Sony Xperia XZ2 and LG G7 ThinQ it certainly doesn’t look or feel out of place. 

Performance is fluid, the screen is bright and colorful, the design is appealing, and there’s a solid camera experience to be had. 

If you can overlook the screen resolution and the lack of expandable storage, an official IP rating, microSD slot and stereo speakers, the OnePlus 6 looks to be another fantastic Android flagship.

John McCann
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